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05:09 pm: On Robots
I both like and love robots. The ones that I like are the little ones who make my life easier, start my coffeemaker in the morning, keep my house at a comfortable 72 ̊, water my yard, sort my emails into folders, wash my clothes, and dishes, and tell my auto mechanic what’s wrong with my car. I like them a lot and welcome more of them into my life. They don’t complain or require anything from me. They give of their talents freely.

The robots I love are different breed altogether; they are the robots of fiction. They possess personalities, have their own wants and needs, and do complain from time to time.

I grew up idolizing Robot from “Lost in Space.” He possessed most of the now standard fictional robot traits Robbie the Robot established in “Forbidden Planet”: a proper if mildly generic voice, lots of lights and gizmos, extraordinary strength and special abilities, and a potentially dangerous underbelly. Robot was a big brother to Will, a foil for Dr. Smith, and a protector of the Space Family Robinson. Robot had a sense of humor Robbie hadn’t yet acquired. Robot could tell a joke, pull a prank, hatch a scheme. He was my first big robot-crush.

My love affairs with robots continued. Hal in “2001: A Space Odyssey” fascinated me. He was my tragic love affair with a crazy person. I could feel his isolation, sense the endless conversation going on in his head that ultimately led to his paranoia. He is sadly evil, like many of the real people I know and have loved suffering from mental illnesses which causes them to harm others and themselves.

The “Star Wars” robots were charming and captured my heart, as did their adorable predecessors in “Silent Running.”

Then there are the ones I love to hate, the evil robots. They are not usually as interesting to me as the more personable ones, but I enjoy a good killer robot as much as anyone else, I suppose. (Although I’m not convinced they make very good Governors.)

When I started writing novels, the very first thing I wanted to do was write a robot. Little did I realize until several chapters into my first draft that my story, EVE, needed to be told first-person, but more accurately, first-robot. But it made such perfect sense. Pentser, my robot, would be the best suited character to give a clear account of what unfolds. As he puts it, “I am not burdened by emotions, though I am programmed to simulate such reactions if necessary. As I recount my story to you, you will detect a patina of sentiment in its telling. This is necessary so that you clearly understand what I am telling you and why, for there is great purpose in my story. It is not merely fashioned to entertain you, or simply my recollection of random events.”

Of course, as with all great robots of fiction, Pentser must have a fatal flaw. Something that, no matter how close to human he might seem, no matter how truly alive he may be, creates an impassible chasm between us. Pentser’s is his inability to understand love. This is easy to imagine; who among us does understand it, really? It makes us do crazy things. Love makes no sense at all, even though it is the crux of our existence. Pentser tells a love story never once realizing he is doing so. Pentser sees Govil’s love for Eve and his willingness to die for her as, “…a perfect example of how easily Randomkind falls prey to their emotions. There are many things I could perceive forfeiting my existence to accomplish, but to elevate copulation with Eve to such a level was nothing short of insane. Yet human history is full of kingdoms lost, churches born and the path of humanity completely altered as a result of or the desire for particular human couplings. Indeed, ever since the Garden of Eden. And her name was Eve as well.”

I developed a deep love for Pentser as I wrote him, but wrote him to be incapable of loving back. He’s the one-sided love affair you pine over while they go along their merry way, oblivious to your feelings toward them.

But that still doesn’t mean I can’t love him anyway.

EVE is available in print and eBook formats here:

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